The People Experience Blog

Goal setting that keeps your employees motivated

May 30, 2020 12:38:48 PM / by Raj

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It's an established fact that effective goal planning is an important ingredient for building a motivated and productive team. A good amount of research ( IISTE, Mckinsey, IZA, Sciencedirect ) has already gone into this and you would have experienced this first hand in your own organization. If your company is highly invested into employee engagement but you do not have the same design thinking applied to your goal setting process, then it's just half the story. An effective goal setting process will help you drive the desired set of employee behavior that positively impacts your goals. You can consider your goal setting process a success when your employees start working not because they need to but because they want to!

However, this is easier said than done. Let's look at a not-so-nice story.

  1. You did a great job with your branding and managed to attract a good number of talented individuals.
  2. You did a stellar job with orientation and onboarding the candidate.
  3. Soon-after, your management team got back to business as usual and lost a direct connect with the new hire.
  4. Despite your best efforts during hiring and orientation and your employee centric initiatives, the employee leaves disgruntled after a couple of months and you need to repeat the process all over again. 

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    If this sounds familiar by now, you should read on.... 

What can possibly be the issue? Let's look at what all might have gone wrong after onboarding.

  1. The new hire was handed over to a process/team/manager that did not meet expectations.
  2. The outcome expected at work did not match the job description/expectation and the employees areas of strength.
  3. The employee had little or no insights into the short term and long term goals. Every task was assigned on an ad hoc basis.
  4. The employee could not relate the work with the mission and vision he/she signed up for.

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Of course we don't want this to be the story in reality.

Let's look at what we can do to keep it just a story. Here are a few things to keep in mind while setting your company goals.

  1. Goal setting starts with hiring. Ensure that your hiring process involves setting clear expectations on both sides. Keep the job description as clear and objective as possible. The job description should be consistent with what the hire will be doing day in and out in the new job. Make it a point to constantly measure and evolve your hiring effectiveness. While hiring management, look for passion, purpose, alignment and intent beyond just experience. It’s difficult to ensure your culture does not dilute along with scale, but if you manage to hire the right management team you will be able to keep it together for a longer time.

  2. Make goal setting a part of your early onboarding process. Ensure you are assessing employees on their areas of strength early on and creating a relevant ramp plan.

  3. Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Result oriented, Time bound) and get a mutual buy-in on the goals. Avoid the temptation of overloading the goals in the hope of overachievement. Instead, allow employees to overachieve their first time goals to get them into a winning mindset and encourage them to set their own stretch goals. The intent should be more about being able to arrive at the goal in reality than making it look nice on paper.

  4. Show your team the bigger picture. Design goals around business objectives and show employees how their goal directly contributes towards the company goal. This practice has a strong tendency to drive, accountability, pride and healthy competition alongwith alignment.

  5. Leave time and scope for personal development. Let your employees "sharpen their axe".

  6. A scientific goal setting process is critical to ensure that your organization is aligned with the company's business goals. It should allow managers to step in as a helping hand rather than micro manage.
  7. Allow your managers and teams to admit to failures without fear or shame. Challenges swept under the carpet can lead to future failures.

  8. Your management team should spend a week or so doing the exact work as the frontline teams. You will be able to make more realistic decisions and set better goals if you spend some time in the trenches yourself. This will also have a positive impact on the morale of your team. Ensure people who are making the policies are sensitive to the situation on the ground and are driving real initiatives to support real objectives on the ground.

  9. Ensure everyone across the board is making promises that can be kept. From the support rep promising a bug fix to a customer to a VP promising a career progression promise based on achievement.

  10. Keep your goals current. Dynamic goals that can adapt to fluctuations in the business ecosystem make them more relevant and worth pursuing. This does not mean that you keep on changing targets, but rather keep your goals relevant. Redundant goals can demotivate the team and relevant goals encourage a performance driven culture.

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Tags: Goal Setting


Written by Raj